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The Evangelical Manifesto
An Evangelical Manifesto
Church And State -- Gotta Keep 'Em Separated
They Couldn't Do This Today ...
Swear on Which Book??
Something About That Name
Pastor Resigns after Political "Misunderstanding"
Church/State Issues
Why Political Activism is NOT the Answer
He's Getting the Band Back Together

May 07, 2008

The Evangelical Manifesto

The Evangelical Manifesto was released today, and the Christian end blogosphere is abuzz with comment. At the end of this post I'll list the articles I've seen on the subject; I'm certain that there are many more that I've missed, so if you've seen one or written one yourself, let me know in the comments and I'll add it in.

On the whole, this is a very positive document, and one that I support 100%. Evangelicals have been defined by our politics for far too long; it is time we're defined by our theology, since evangelicalism is after all a theological movement. My hope is that it becomes more than just another piece of paper that is ignored in a few weeks; that it becomes a pattern of behaviour among Evangelical Christians.

Just a few thoughts on specific quotes from the Manifesto:

As followers of "the narrow way", our concern is not for approval and popular esteem. Nor do we regard it as accurate or faithful to pose as victims, or to protest at discrimination. We certainly do not face persecution like our fellow-believers elsewhere in the world. Too many of the problems we face as Evangelicals in the United States are those of our own making. If we protest, our protest has to begin with ourselves.
This is an important statement right off the bat, and one I wholeheartedly agree with. We spend far too much time wringing out hands over supposed attacks on Christianity, all the while giving those who attack us the ammunition they need.
There are grave dangers in identity politics, but we insist that we ourselves, and not scholars, the press, or public opinion, have the right to say who we understand ourselves to be. We are who we say we are, and we resist all attempts to explain us in terms of our "true motives" and our "real" agenda.
There are some evangelicals who have a political agenda. These people do not represent the greater body of evangelical thought, and there are often evangelicals who are in complete opposition to them. For example; Constitutionalist Party Presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin is an evangelical; Sojourners founder Jim Wallis is an evangelical as well. I doubt that these two men agree on much, politically speaking.

I like the statement of faith that is included in the document; it should go a long way toward defining who is evangelical, and what that means from a theological standpoint. I found the fourth point particularly interesting, given recent developments within the Evangelical Theological Society; "we believe that Jesus own teaching and his attitude toward the total truthfulness and supreme authority of the Bible, Gods inspired Word, make the Scriptures our final rule for faith and practice."

we believe that being disciples of Jesus means serving him as Lord in every sphere of our lives, secular as well as spiritual, public as well as private, in deeds as well as words, and in every moment of our days on earth, always reaching out as he did to those who are lost as well as to the poor, the sick, the hungry, the oppressed, the socially despised, and being faithful stewards of creation and our fellow-creatures.
This affirms the social aspects of the Gospel without losing the fact that faith is a requirement to please God in anything.

I'm encouraged that the Manifesto does not condemn anyone outside the Evangelical community, but instead calls us all to repentance. There are areas where we've each had trouble in allowing our practical Christianity to follow our theological Christianity. To live consistently, orthodoxy must result in orthopraxy -- when that doesn't happen, Christianity stagnates. I think that a lot of the problem that many denominations are experiencing today result from the lack of "correct practice" or "correct living" -- living that is informed and fueled by our faith which is the point of this section:

Evangelical belief and devotion is expressed as much in our worship and in our deeds as in our creeds. As the universal popularity of such hymns and songs as ―Amazing Grace‖ attests, our great hymn writers stand alongside our great theologians, and often our commitment can be seen better in our giving and our caring than in official statements. What we are about is captured not only in books or declarations, but in our care for the poor, the homeless, and the orphaned; our outreach to those in prison; our compassion for the hungry and the victims of disaster; and our fight for justice for those oppressed by such evils as slavery and human trafficking.
There are many instances where we are doing this, but it's not noticed. I think particularly of the SBC's Disaster Relief program that I'm familiar with, but there are many more examples. We don't do these things to receive public acknowledgment, but it would be nice to actually have people notice when we do something right -- they certainly are quick to judge when we mess up. Those instances are, unfortunately, much less frequent than they should be. We need to live our faith out on a daily basis, in our own neighborhoods, and around our own friends and family.

"Fifth, the Evangelical message, good news by definition, is overwhelmingly positive, and always positive before it is negative." We often forget this, especially those in the more fundamentalist traditions. Forgetting this, as much as anything else, has caused us problems. We must speak the truth, but we must do it in love.

Speaking of fundamentalism

We celebrate those in the past for their worthy desire to be true to the fundamentals of faith, but Fundamentalism has become an overlay on the Christian faith and developed into an essentially modern reaction to the modern world. As a reaction to the modern world, it tends to romanticize the past, some now-lost moment in time, and to radicalize the present, with styles of reaction that are personally and publicly militant to the point where they are sub-Christian.
Couldn't agree more with that statement.

The second section, dealing with reforming our behavior, indicts evangelicals on both ends of the "liberal-conservative" spectrum, and emphasizes what I talked about above; the need to live consistently with our beliefs.

I like this quote especially; "Called by Jesus to be "in" the world but "not of" the world, we are fully engaged in public affairs, but never completely equated with any party, partisan ideology, economic system, class, tribe, or national identity." GOP does not mean "God's Own Party" and it's time we started to realize it, and act like it. We need to hold all political leaders to the same standard, no matter which side of the aisle they sit on. And we need to stop allowing ourselves to be courted every four years, and then abandoned as soon as the election results are in. But I've talked about that before, and won't rehash old posts here.

First, we Evangelicals repudiate two equal and opposite errors into which many Christians have fallen recently. One error has been to privatize faith, interpreting and applying it to the personal and spiritual realm only. Such dualism falsely divorces the spiritual from the secular, and causes faith to lose its integrity and become "privately engaging and publicly irrelevant," and another form of "hot tub spirituality." The other error, made by both the religious left and the religious right in recent decades, is to politicize faith, using faith to express essentially political points that have lost touch with biblical truth. That way faith loses its independence, the church becomes "the regime at prayer," Christians become "useful idiots" for one political party or another, and the Christian faith becomes an ideology in its purest form. Christian beliefs are used as weapons for political interests.
That one stands on its own, especially the "useful idiots" part.

As I said, it's my hope that people read this, and pay attention to it. Non-Christians have a lot to learn about Evangelicals, and the media gets it wrong most of the time. And Evangelicals need to get their act together -- this Manifesto will show us all a few ways to do just that.

My fear, of course, is that this one will get big news coverage for about a half hour, and then vanish into thin air, disappearing as quickly as an evangelist on Day 4 of a three day revival.

Read these articles to see what other people have written about the Manifesto:


Let me know if you find more discussion that I've missed. I found a lot of people mentioning it was out, but not a lot of discussion.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 12:59 PM | Comments (1347) | TrackBack

May 03, 2008

An Evangelical Manifesto

I just found out about this, thanks to Dr. Bock's blog. CNN had the story Friday.

The declaration, scheduled to be released Wednesday in Washington, encourages Christians to be politically engaged and uphold teachings such as traditional marriage. But the drafters say evangelicals have often expressed "truth without love," helping create a backlash against religion during a "generation of culture warring."

"All too often we have attacked the evils and injustices of others," the statement says, "while we have condoned our own sins." It argues, "we must reform our own behavior."


I'm looking forward to reading this on Wednesday - it sounds like something I could get behind.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 05:11 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 18, 2006

Church And State -- Gotta Keep 'Em Separated

(title apologies to Apologetix)

The IRS is demanding that All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, CA turn over all their documents and emails so that they can determine whether the church violated any campaign laws and should lose their tax exempt status. The church is notoriously liberal, and is very active in social causes, so government policy is often mentioned in sermons.

From this Sunday's response to the IRS:

... we would argue that this entire case has been an intrusion, in fact an attack upon this Church’s first amendment rights to the exercise of freedom of religion and freedom of speech.
...
Our faith mandates that always stopping short of endorsing or opposing political candidates, the church can neither be silent nor indifferent when there are public policies causing detriment to the least of these.

I'm sure that I wouldn't fit in at All Saints. I'm sure that I disagree with the folks there on matters of politics, morality, and theology. But I have one thing to say after reading the statement from yesterday.

Amen.

Our faith requires us to speak out. Our faith demands that we are not silent. And that is what the rest of the world refuses to hear, or understand. Faith is not an option to us -- it's an integral part of who we are. We can't not speak out and be consistent with our faith.

And so, while I would most likely stand opposed to All Saints and rector Ed Bacon, I want to let them know publicly that I am 100% behind them in this. This is an attack on freedom of religious expression that should alarm people of all faiths everywhere. We must speak out on this, or we will all lose.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 07:22 PM | Comments (1077) | TrackBack

December 23, 2005

They Couldn't Do This Today ...

So I was cruising around the Internet looking for some stuff to post -- something quick and easy, so I could go wrap presents or something -- and I found something that really made me pause.

December 24, 1968. NASA astronauts James A. Lovell, William Anders and Frank Borman read Genesis 1:1-12 from lunar orbit.

In his autobiography Countdown, Frank Borman later wrote, "There was one more impression we wanted to transmit: our feeling of closeness to the Creator of all things. This was Christmas Eve, December 24, 1968, and I handed Jim and Bill their lines from the Holy Scriptures."

About six weeks before launch, a NASA official had called Borman. Noting that the crew would be circling the earth on Christmas Eve, he said, "We figure more people will be listening to your voice than that of any man in history. So we want you to say something appropriate." (from the Christian History Institute)

No WAY that could happen today. NASA would be sued. The three astronauts would be sued. Scientists around the nation would be up in arms at the unscientific sentiments expressed from these three astronauts.

But in 1968, it was appropriate. We've come a long way, unfortunately.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 07, 2005

Swear on Which Book??

I've always wondered -- when a Jewish man or woman testifies in court, do they swear on the Christian Bible? What about a Muslim? And if they do -- does it really mean anything? After all, they are swearing on a book whose contents they largely (if not completely) disagree with.

And what about atheists? They're doing the equivalent of swearing on a copy of Mother Goose to us -- they're swearing on a book they consider to be a work of complete fiction.

In a society where Christians, while in a slight majority according to the polls, are not close to the only spiritual/philosophical group, why do we make everyone who testifies in court swear on the good old KJV?

There's a group in Guilford County, North Carolina who are asking the same question. They're petitioning the courts to use various religious texts in the swearing-in process.

The group - made up of more than 20 religious leaders from the area, including those of Christian, Jewish and Buddhist faiths - sent a letter Tuesday to Guilford Superior Court Judge W. Douglas Albright, who has said an oath on the Quran is not lawful.

"In North Carolina, we continue to be people who take our religious beliefs and practices very seriously. But we no longer live in the Bible Belt. Today, we live in the Bible-Talmud-Qur'an-Veda-Dhammapada-Guru Granth Sahib-Kitabiiqan Belt," the letter states.

This should be a no-brainer, folks. Those who are giving sworn testimony should do so on a book they consider holy -- whether that's the Bible, the Talmud, the Quran, or The Fountainhead.

And the local judge doesn't get it.

Albright, who sets policy for Guilford County's nine Superior Court courtrooms, has said that an oath on the Quran is not a lawful oath under state law, which refers to using the "Holy Scriptures."
But it doesn't say whose. That's the point the group is trying to make.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 09:46 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 30, 2005

Something About That Name

You can pray all you want to before the city council meetings in Great Falls, SC. -- just don't mention Jesus.

"This sends a message that this behavior is unacceptable," said Darla Wynne, whose 2001 lawsuit started the legal battle. Wynne practices Wicca, a nature-based religion based on ancient Western European and pre-Christian beliefs.

She said her victory made her feel a sense of accomplishment for the "little guy." Wynne was opposed by some religious leaders and the state's attorney general during her legal fight.

The town's lawyer, Michael Hemlepp, said he will advise Great Falls officials to "obey the law."

I would advise the Christians who are called to pray to end their prayers something like this:

"And I pray this in the only name that is worthy, the only name of the only one who ever commanded His followers to pray in His name, but a name that has been banned because of the fear it creates in unbelievers, in that glorious name I pray, Amen."
The law is obeyed. Jesus isn't mentioned. But the point is made. I like making points like that.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 07:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 11, 2005

Pastor Resigns after Political "Misunderstanding"

Chan Chandler, the pastor of the now-famous East Waynesville Baptist Church, has resigned after a closed-door meeting with the church last night.

"I am resigning with gratitude in my heart for all of you, particularly those of you who love me and my family," Chandler said, adding that the dispute was rooted in his strong feelings about abortion.

Chandler was accused of telling members of his congregation

The question then comes in the Baptist Church how do I vote. Let me just say this right now: If you vote for John Kerry this year, you need to repent or resign. You have been holding back God's church way too long. And I know I may get in trouble for saying that, but just pour it on.
IF Chandler endorsed Bush in the pulpit, and IF he forced the resignations of people who didn't agree with him concerning the election, then he needed to go. From the CNN article today, it sounds as if the dispute concerned Chandler's stance on abortion, and his endorsement of candidates who agree with is convictions. You can't endorse a political candidate from the pulpit -- I don't care which party you are a supporting. You can advocate positions on social issues -- that's what churches DO most of the time. You can point out that one party agrees with you, and one doesn't. You cannot endorse a political party or candidate.

The sad thing about this is that there was an easy way around it. Chandler could have held the same positions, said virtually the same things, and kept his job. But he went too far in endorsing a candidate from the pulpit, and expecting everyone in the congregation to do likewise.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 14, 2005

Church/State Issues

There are two church/state separation issues in the news right now, and I haven't really been talking as much about this as I should, so I want to cover them both here.

First, the prayer at the Inauguration. Michael Newdow is back in court, challenging the President and his desire to have a prayer at the inauguration. And Newdow does have a good point, if this is true:

"The government is coming out and saying, 'OK everybody, while you watch, we are a Christian nation,' " Mr. Newdow said. "It is a declaration to the nation and the world that we are a Christian nation."
We're not a Christian nation. We are a nation founded on Judeo-Christian principles, in which the clear majority of citizens are Christians (or at least claim to be Christians). Our country was founded to be a refuge for people who were persecuted for their beliefs -- no matter what those beliefs are. We take pride in our stand that people should be able to practice their religious beliefs, no matter what they are.

President Bush is a Christian. What I do not understand is how being President makes George W. Bush unable to practice his faith. He's not allowed to make public references to God. He's not allowed to pray, or have a prayer said, at his inauguration. It seems that what Newdow is saying is that Christians, and other people of faith, are only allowed to practice their faith in private. No public displays, no public acknowledgement, especially if you are a government employee or politician.

If the President were trying to make this a Christian nation, I would be on the front line trying to stop him. The Christian faith is not something to be forced on anyone. I believe strongly that only God can convict someone to become a Christian, and that if God is convicting, there is no resistance to His call. When we look back in history, we see what happens when Christianity becomes an established religion -- just look at the Inquisitions in Europe, Constantine's forced baptism of his troops, the persecution of non-Puritans in New England in the 17th and 18th centuries. I believe that Christianity is true. I believe that Christ is the answer to the problems we have today. But we cannot force people to become Christians -- all that makes are pretenders.

I don't think that is the President's goal. I think that he simply wants to recognize publically his dependance on God, as have past Presidents, and I am angered that people who are supposed to be in favor of tolerance are being so intolerant on this issue.

The other issue is over the "evolution stickers" that have now been removed from Georgia biology textbooks.

This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.
I see no reference to creation in that. What is wrong with encouraging students to approach things in science with a critical mind? It seems to me that science is all about looking at things critically. If evolution is a clear scientific fact, as most opponents of the stickers believe, then it will stand up to critical scrutiny. If it can't, then it needs to be discarded and a new theory developed.

I will be the first to admit that I am not the person to debate creation/evolution. I actually never studied it in high school -- the biology teacher (an evolutionist) didn't have time to cover it because there were things she thought were more important. The two best students in the class were both creationists, so I wish we had been able to get into the subject -- it might have sparked some interesting debate. Back then, I was a serious science student -- and creationist. Now, I'm just a creationist -- a four-year degree in business doesn't leave much opportunity to keep current on the debate. (There are plenty of blogs out there that do discuss it well -- a couple of them are on my blogroll.) I think that we are being arrogant to think that we know conclusively how the earth was created, and how life began and has developed -- I don't see how science is threatened by telling students to examine it's claims critically.

I am in favor of keeping the government out of the church's business, and keeping religion out of the political arena. There should be no "religion test" to see if a candidate is suitable for office. But we should never expect people to ignore their religious beliefs when they are in office, or to stop practicing their faith.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 01:15 PM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2004

Why Political Activism is NOT the Answer

I've said it a few times before -- I think Christians need to pay attention to politics, we need to vote according to our beliefs, and we need to encourage others to do the same. But politics is not going to make America "God's Country" -- and it shouldn't be our focus to change the US into some sort of 21st Century Christendom.

Christian principles are to take care of the poor without obligating them to anything, to forgive people who have done things to us WITHOUT thought to whether they deserve our forgiveness. Government can't do this all the time -- when it's been tried, it has failed. It is not the job of government to take care of the poor. It is not the government's job to decide right and wrong -- the government decides what is legal and what is illegal. It is the church's duty to be the arbiter of morality, and to strictly enforce those standards on it's members. If we can't even get THAT right, how can we expect to be able to run a country?

But society can not, and should not, expect Christians, or anybody of any faith at all, to set their beliefs aside when the time comes for important decisions like who to elect to the highest office in the land. It is insulting when I read that Christians need to leace the religion stuff at church -- as if my faith should have absolutely no effect on who I am today. (I always thought of that song when I heard John Kerry campaigning this past year.)

There are a whole host of articles about this topic wandering about on the internet. Here are a couple that peeked my interest:

Posted by Warren Kelly at 05:14 PM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2004

He's Getting the Band Back Together

World Magazine has it, but it was Jollyblogger who broke the news to me -- Jerry's decided that it's time for a reunion tour.

I was at Liberty when Jerry decided to retire the Moral Majority. I saw the revival that broke out on campus, just because we had a Chancellor who was involved, and was able to contribute spiritually to the university. It made a huge difference in a lot of lives.

And now, even though we've got the closest thing to an evangelical President that we've ever had, Jerry Falwell is gearing up for another try at influencing national politics, with the Faith and Values Coalition. He's turning over day to day operations at Liberty University to Jerry, Jr., and day to day at Thomas Road Baptist Church to Jonathan Falwell. Jerry, Jr. is a pretty good choice, with his legal background. I feel a little sorry for the folks at T Road, though -- looks like they won't get to pick their own pastor when Jerry fully retires from the pulpit. He still plans on preaching each Sunday, but he's handed the control of everything else over to his son.

I hope this turns out well. I really do. I hope that Liberty continues to be the school that it has become, and can improve without sacrificing the values that made the school what it is. I hope that the church grows, and continues to be a blessing in the community. I hope that Jerry will not forget that the church that God gave him to lead is his primary responsibility.

But I only expect to be disappointed. So the only hope I have left is that the Faith and Values Coalition will remain true to it's name, and not end up becoming the Christians for Republicans Coalition.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 04:10 PM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2004

Faith in Public

Jared over at Exultate Justi has an outstanding piece on this topic. There's more at National Review Online. I've said my piece on it a time or two.

I do not see how faith and action can ever be separated, if you are following your faith in a consistant manner. Faith requires you to believe a certain way about things, and those beliefs require you to act in certain ways. This is hard for people without faith to understand. They cannot see what it is about faith that makes it so vital to people who have it. Part of the problem is us.

People of faith often are not living consistently. We say that we believe one thing, but in other areas of our lives, we act a different way. God is supposed to be a vital part of our lives, but we act as if He's jsut an old relative that we go to visit on Sundays. We nod at the message, we sing the songs, and nothing that happens within the walls of the church has any impact at all on our lives. We'd be better off staying home and sleeping in. The Barna group has a survey dealing with this issue. I was going to address it here, but after looking at it, I think it needs its own post. I may save that one until next week, while I'm writing papers.

If faith matters (and I say this to people of all faiths, not just Christianity), then it always matters. It matters when you go to school. It matters when you get to the office. It matters when you decide what you are going to read, or what you will watch. And it matters when you are elected to public office.

Unless you are John Kerry. Then, faith is a personal thing, not a public thing. It has no impact on anything he does outside of church. In many ways, he would fit in quite well with the average American evangelical.

And that's a shame.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 03:11 PM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2004

Church/State Separation UPDATE

I have to say, Americans United works fast. I sent the form in this morning, and got a reply at about 10:10. Robert Boston told me that they have received numerous complaints -- I wonder how many conservatives complained, as I did, just to see if they would do anything to their own side.

They have filed a complaint with the IRS, which was delivered this morning. Have to admit it -- I don't like most of what they're against, but at least they are consistant. And I really didn't expect them to do it. They told me that the New York Times would have more information, but I'm having trouble accessing their site from the computer lab here at school. I'll stay on it, and update when I find out something.

{UPDATE} You have to register (but the piewview thing works here), but check out this link.

I especially love the Kerry campaign's statement: "Speaking to a church is well within the limits of the tax code and it is quite different from the way the Bush campaign has aggressively pushed to use churches to distribute their campaign material and treated them as an arm of its re-election effort." Bush doesn't have a Baptist minister working for him -- Kerry does (Rev. Jackson).

A church endorsing a candidate explicitly is a clear violation of the law. It's also an abuse of the pulpit. I have no problem with a preacher admonishing the congregation to vote their conscience, or even to vote for a candidate that holds to a specific position on something like abortion or same-sex marriage. I have a problem when "Vote For {candidate}!" is proclaimed from a pulpit -- and that is exactly what happened in Florida. As far as I know, churches that support Bush haven't done anything this blatent (or this stupid) -- but that may be simply because the attention is focused on them, rather than the liberal churches.

I'm glad to see that Americans United (I've given the link enough -- I don't want them getting TOO much traffic from me!) is consistant in their objective of keeping churches true to the letter (AND the spirit) of campaign law.

{UPDATE AGAIN} I forgot about this. They've done it before, and are doing it again.

The amazing thing is how little press coverage this is getting. The Times is the only paper so far to cover the newest story, though beliefnet has also mentioned it. Very little has been said about the Kerry campaign's targeting of churches -- only Bush's. Of course, Bush has done more, but that shouldn't matter. If it's being done at all, it should be news, no matter who is doing it.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 01:00 PM | Comments (0)

Church/State Separation Update

Still haven't heard from the folks at Americans United. I DID find out that they have an online form to report violations (like Kerry speaking at a church in Florida, for example).

The form is here. If you look at their web page, you'll notice that they're really only concerned with conservative religious separation -- I have yet to read anything they've said about a Baptist minister being active in politics -- I'm talking about Rev. Jesse Jackson. Nothing about Rev. Al Sharpton, either. Pat Robertson, however, is featured on the main page. (Personally, I think that any minister of the Gospel should consider it a demotion and a failure in his calling to leave the pastorate to run for any political office, but that's just me.)

Maybe if we ALL let them know about the Florida 'violation', they'll be forced to actually do something about it. I still haven't seen anything about it on their site -- and I really don't expect to. They're as inconsistent as any other liberal organization.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2004

Church and State Separation

WHERE are the folks from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State? I'm blowin' the whistle on this one:

Meanwhile, Kerry hit the trail in Florida on Sunday, attending a Catholic mass before speaking at Friendship Mission Baptist Church in Miami alongside Rev. Al Sharpton and newly-hired campaign adviser Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Kerry received a standing ovation at the church, where he told parishioners that God was present there. After the church speech, Kerry has some down time before heading to New Mexico, where he will do his final debate preparations before Wednesday's debate.

(from FoxNews)So a church is backing Kerry -- rather obviously backing him, from other reports I've read. And not a word out of anyone but some conservative bloggers.

Maybe someone should call Project Fair Play. I've sent them an email; we'll see what happens.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 05:48 PM | Comments (0)

October 03, 2004

Another Christian Political Party

Thanks on this one to Antioch Road, which is a new addition to the blogroll, even though I've been reading it for a little while now with my RSS newsreader.

The Lighthouse Party's mission is simply to be heard.

Our mission is to be heard. Our mission is for everybody to know who we are and what we stand for. Though our belief in Christianity is slowly declining here in America, and in the world, our popularity would not get us elected. Even though we understand this, it does not give us the right to sit back. We need to continue to fight for what is right regardless of its popular standing.

They at least recognize that it's tough for a third party to be elected. And they're brand new - just founded in September this year. IT will be interesting to see how this new party grows and changes, and especially what their platform will shape up into. I'm hoping that they won't simply be another Constitution Pary, but that they will have a platform that all Christians can support.

And I hope that they remember that, as Christians, we have a power greater than politics -- a power that can bring change to the world, one life at a time.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 02:08 PM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2004

The ACLU Does Something Right

When I was an undergrad at Liberty, I tended to speak of the ACLU as the Atheists, Communists and Liberals Union. I'd crack jokes at their expense, and often wondered at what a great place it would be for Christians if the ACLU went away. I wasn't alone. Listening to the ACLJ's radio program, and some of the callers, it seems that there are still people who wish the ACLU would go away and never come back.

Jay Sekulow isn't one of those. He often talks about the ACLU, but he is often complimentary. He makes the point that they have a right to believe what they do, and that the place to fight them is in court. And he has admitted that they have been right on several occasions -- even working WITH the ACLJ from time to time.

So I've tryed to post stories that show the ACLU doing something right. These are stories that often get overlooked by the Christian media, but we need to know about them -- because it shows that the ACLU really IS concerned with civil liberties, and they DO sometimes help Christians out.


This story is a good example of that. Briefly, a city in Nebraska is trying to zone a church out of existance, and the ACLU is trying to stop them. Here's a quote from the story, in case you don't feel like clicking through. The quotes are from ACLU Nebraska legal director Amy Miller.

"The city is proposing an outrageous burden on the right to free exercise of religious beliefs,” Miller said. “The current city proposal would require that the church hire a mechanical engineer and install a new air intake system with shut off valves in case of a hazardous spill.”
The small congregation is renting its current location, so such a requirement “is tantamount to ordering them to close down,” she said.
“No other businesses in the industrial zones – auto body shops, daycare centers, health clinics and even live adult entertainment – are required to have this sort of expensive renovation. If there were a true danger requiring these changes, would it not apply to day care centers and health clinics also?”
So let's hear it for the ACLU. They did something right. Let's pray that they keep it up.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 09:56 PM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2004

Kerry's Sleeveless Faith

And let me say it plainly: in that cause, and in this campaign, we welcome people of faith. America is not us and them. I think of what Ron Reagan said of his father a few weeks ago, and I want to say this to you tonight: I don't wear my own faith on my sleeve. But faith has given me values and hope to live by, from Vietnam to this day, from Sunday to Sunday. I don't want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side. And whatever our faith, one belief should bind us all: The measure of our character is our willingness to give of ourselves for others and for our country.

I knew that Ron Reagan's words would come back to us. I didn't think that John Kerry would quote him in his acceptance speach.

I was personally a bit irritated at Ron Reagan for his obvious politicizing of his father's funeral. But it was his dime, he could do what he wanted -- even though I wonder what his dad would have said. I know that Democrats all over the nation stood and cheered what Ron said -- even those who were secretly pleased that his father was gone.

Kerry's faith card will appeal to the folks who would have voted for him anyway. People who think that religion is for Sundays, but that it has no place in public life. Kerry's faith has given him values to live by, but not to influence society with. He has hope, but not hope to share with anyone. He's said before that he personally opposes abortion, but won't follow his personal values when elected. He has a personal Jesus, but not a very practical one -- or a public one.

This is what people mean when they talk about wearing religion on one's sleeves. They want faith to stay put, and not influence society. That may work with some faiths -- Buddhism, for example, or some forms of Judaeism. Christianity is an evangelical faith -- evangelical in the braodest sense of the word. It is meant to be spread, by preaching and teaching, converting and baptizing. That is what Christ's final command to us was all about -- Go, preach, teach, and baptize. In Acts, we read His words: "You shall be witnesses ...". We will be witnesses of Him, either by our actions or by our inactions. Wearing your faith on your sleeve means that you will be a witness by your actions -- by your words, your deeds, your faith in action on a daily basis. Andrew Fuller understood this over 200 years ago. John Kerry hasn't figured it out yet.

Your faith may be sleeveless, Mr. Kerry. True faith, the faith that the martyrs died for, the faith that built the Church, the faith that Christ expects from His followers, has sleeves.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:36 PM | Comments (0)

July 03, 2004

Bush's Mass Mailing List

Not usually a political blogger, but I found this story over at Christianity Today. Seems the President is getting some addresses and phone numbers for a mass mailing/telemarketing program.

And he's getting them for free.


The President is asking supporters to send him their church directories. This is going to give him a wealth of information -- names and addresses especially, but also phone numbers and possibly some demographic information (age, number of kids, etc.).

Marketers pay a LOT of money for these lists; in fact, these lists are one of the biggest expenses involved in any marketing campaign. Bush is going to get them for free.

Needless to say, Bush opponents are up in arms. I can understand why -- the Bush campaign is getting thousands of dollars worth of marketing information for free. I'd think that this is streatching the campaign rules a little bit. Bush had better be careful here.

Other things the Bush campaign is asking are for volunteers to encourage their churches to hold voter registration rallies, recruit churchmembers for the campaign, and put together voter information packages. Some church/state separationists are upset about these things as well.

I don't like the church directories being given to the campaign. I have no problem with any of the other things Bush is doing; after all, the Democrats have been doing it for years, with Rev. Jesse Jackson at the head of the campaign. Part of the problem is that people don't think of Jackson as a minister -- he's first and foremost a politician. Part of the problem is that church/state separatists tend to be more toward the liberal side of the spectrum, and they don't notice the beam in their own eye.

I'm not sure how I feel about this plan. I can see that it's very efficient, politically, for the campaign. I can see, however, that it could cause some problems in churches that are politically diverse. It can cause concern about tax-exempt statuses for many churches. And I'm not sure it's going to gain the President many new voters (though I could be wrong here).

I know that if my church held a voter registration drive, I'd participate. I know that if my church held a campaign dinner, or if someone asked me to volunteer on the campaign, I'd probably say no. I support President Bush, but I don't want him to think that he's getting a free ride from Christians simply because he's a Republican. He needs to make sure he doesn't forget about us two years after re-election, as has seemed to be the case.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:54 PM | Comments (0)

July 01, 2004

The NAE and Civic Engagement

I promised this yesterday, but I've been mulling over what I want to say. Some of the things in the document, I don't agree with. Some things in the document, conservatives won't agree with. But I think that there is a lot that is worthwhile here, no matter what nation you live in.

One thing to remember is that this document encompasses all evangelicals -- or is meant to. Not all evangelicals are politically conservative, and their influence can be seen in the document.

One thing that the document makes clear is that "disengagement is not an option". We have to remain engaged with our nation as much as we can be, to try to make the changes to our society that government can make. This is something that I think people have misunderstood about things that I have said -- I don't believe that we should just go away and let the nation go; we have to be engaged. The isue that I have is that many Christians seem to think that if we can get the politics straightened out, everything will be OK. The government cannot fix everything, and we shouldn't expect it to.

One thing that conservatives will disagree on is the ammount of government. The NAE does not advocate a small government; in fact, it sees a role for government in welfare (and welfare reform), protection of the sanctity of life, international peacemaking, and many other areas. It also calls for improved access to health care for all citizens.

The Bible makes it clear that God cares a great deal about the wellbeing of marriage, the family, the sanctity of human life, justice for the poor, care for creation, peace, freedom, and racial justice. While individual persons and organizations may rightly concentrate on one or two issues, faithful evangelical civic engagement must champion a biblically balanced agenda.
In other words, don't ignore the poor. Don't ignore environmental issues. Don't ignore racism. If we are truely going to bring a Christian worldview to our politics, we have to make sure that it is consistant.

We will differ with other Christians and with non-Christians over the best policies. Thus we must practice humility and cooperation to achieve modest and attainable goals for the good of society. We must take care to employ the language of civility and to avoid demonizing those with whom we disagree. Because political work requires persuasion and cooperation with those who do not share our Christian commitment, we must offer a reasoned and easy-to-grasp defense of our goals.
In other words, no name-calling, from either side.

I especially like this quote:

Christians engaged in political activity must maintain their integrity and keep their biblical values intact. While they may frequently settle for "half-a-loaf," they must never compromise principle by engaging in unethical behavior or endorsing or fostering sin. Evangelicals should join political parties and fully express their biblical values. In doing so, they must be careful not to equate Christian faith with partisan politics.
The emphasis there, of course, is mine. The whole Republican=Christian thing is not only untrue, it's unbiblical, as is Christian=Republican. Party politics are not tied to faith in Christ, as I tried to illustrate elsewhere. All we can do, and what we need to do, is make sure that our political views reflect our Christian beliefs. That may involve supporting (gasp) a Democrat. Or an Independant. Or Libertarian, or Constitutional, or Green. Political parties will take us for granted, unless we make sure they know we vote issues, not party.

There is a large section on protecting liberty of conscience, which should relieve the folks who think we're a bunch of Reconstructionists. Then again, they probably won't listen to us at all.

Because human beings are responsible to God, these guarantees are crucial to the exercise of their Godgiven freedom. As God allows the wheat and tares to grow together until the harvest, and as God sends the rain on the just and on the unjust, so those who obey and those who disobey God coexist in society and share in its blessings (Matt. 5:45; 13:24-30). This "gospel pluralism" is foundational to the religious liberty of all.
THIS is where our call to evangelism comes into play. Government MUST allow all faiths to practice their beliefs, including those faiths who are called to proseletyze. We must be about the Lord's business, and government cannot interfere. At the same time, we must realize that other faiths are allowed to exist in our society, and not strive for laws that restrict their practice.


We commit ourselves to work for laws that protect and foster family life, and against government attempts to interfere with the integrity of the family. We also oppose innovations such as same-sex "marriage." We will work for measures that strengthen the economic viability of marriages and families, especially among the poor. We likewise commit ourselves to work within the church and society to strengthen marriages, to reduce the rate of divorce, and to prepare young adults for healthy family life.
I'm curious about how many people who are in favor of the Marriage Ammendment are divorced. Do they not realize that divorce is interfering with the integrity of the institution of marriage as much as the whole 'same-sex marriage' issue? There are more heterosexuals who get divorced every day than there are homosexuals who want to get married. Consistancy. We should oppose divorce with the vigor we oppose gay marriage.
We further believe that care for the vulnerable should extend beyond our national borders. We link arms with Christians everywhere in calling on individuals, churches and governments to do more to reduce the scandal of widespread poverty in a time of abundance.
Kinda puts a damper on the Constitutional Party's foreign policy platform, doesn't it?

The paper goes on to discuss government's role in providing for the poor, and taking responsibility for the economic well being of it's citizens. I think that they give government too big of a role in this area. I think that the church should be the primary provider of welfare for the poor, with the government stepping in only when they church cannot, or does not.

Restoring people to wholeness means that public social welfare must aim to restore people to self-sufficiency. While basic standards of support must be put in place to provide for those who cannot care for their families and themselves, incentives and training in marketable skills must be part of any well-rounded program.
Sound familiar??

They also call for sound environmental stewardship. God gave us the earth to care for -- to have dominion over, true, but also to care for and take care of.

Because clean air, pure water, and adequate resources are crucial to public health and civic order, government has an obligation to protect its citizens from the effects of environmental degradation. This involves both the urgent need to relieve human suffering
caused by bad environmental practice and the responsibility to use foresight in egulating
the use of land and resources to minimize the effects on the poor and others who are less
able to protect themselves. Because natural systems are extremely complex, human actions can have unexpected side effects. We must therefore approach our stewardship of creation with humility and caution.

I really think that this paper, if adopted with anywhere close to the language it contains in this draft, will change the way evangelicals are perceived by the secular world. It will also result in our modern fundamental brethren deciding that we have compromised. Oh, well -- they'd do that anyway.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 09:22 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2004

The NAE and Christian Politics

I'm following this story with some anticipation -- and I'm about a week behind in reporting on it. The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) is drafting a new document concerning the role that Christians should play in the political process. According to the Detroit News story:

It affirms a religiously based commitment to government protections for the poor, the sick and the disabled, including fair wages, health care, nutrition and education. It declares that Christians have a “sacred responsibility” to protect the environment.

But it also hews closely to a traditional evangelical emphasis on the importance of families, opposition to homosexual marriage, and “social evils,” such as alcohol, drugs, abortion and the use of human embryos for stem-cell research. It reaffirms a commitment to religious freedom at home and abroad.

It also addresses consevative Christians' tendancy to play party politics:
In domestic politics, evangelicals “must guard against over-identifying Christian social goals with a single political party, lest nonbelievers think that Christian faith is essentially political in nature.”

The full document is available here. I'm going to print it out and read it tonight/tomorrow, and I'll comment more fully Tuesday evening. Right now, I'm excited. I think that this might start to emphasise to Christians that a lot of the things we want government and political parties to do , the church should be doing.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 07:28 PM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2004

Constitution Party -- Explicitly Christian?

It is our duty to raise up Christian candidates who can then use their power to influence a return to the Biblical principles upon which our country was founded. A very good beginning to this process is to check out the only explicitly Christian platform of any political party: www.constitutionparty.org and visit Michael Peroutka's website.

This quote from Buddy Hanson appears on Michael Peroutka's website. I started to wonder if the party's platform actually was explicitly Christian. When you read pary materials, it sounds great -- no abortion at all, no gay marriage, strong defense but otherwise small government, reform of every governmental entity including the Department of Education, the House of Representatives, and the US Senate.

And they have attracted a lot of conservative Christians. Christians have grown disillusioned with the Republican Party, and it's catering to Christian ideas and issues only twice every four years. So I'm going to take some time and look at the platform of the Constitution Party, to see if it's really explicitly Christian. You can find their platform right here


  • The Sanctity of Life plank is every pro-lifer's dream, Christian or not. No abortion under any circumstances (even rape or incest). No euthanasia, infanticide, or suicide, either (though how do you enforce a law making suicide illegal?). So this plank passes the test, although it's adoption ensures that no candidate who campaigns on it will ever be elected.

  • The AIDS plank is interesting.
    Under no circumstances should the federal government continue to subsidize activities which have the effect of encouraging perverted or promiscuous sexual conduct. Criminal penalties should apply to those whose willful acts of omission or commission place members of the public at risk of contracting AIDS or HIV.
    In other words, homosexual practices involving an HIV individual would be illegal. I can easilly see this turning into a Sodomy law similar to the one that was overturned in Texas.

    Jewish law loves this plank. This follows the injunction in the Old Testament against the practice of homosexuality. The New Testament talks about the punishment of God being heaped on those who practice homosexuality, but doesn't say anything about civil government legislating against it. Have to give this one a no, if we're talking about Biblically-based Christianity. If we're just talking about what Christians would like to happen, though, it gets a yes. There's a distinction here.

  • Bringing Government Back Home. This one doesn't mention God or Christians in the plank. The Bible doesn't say anything about the size of civil government, so this one gets a no.

  • Character of public officials. Nothing in the Bible about how to select elected officials, either. This I'm giving a maybe, though, since it stands to reason that Christians should expect their elected officials to behave themselves.

  • The next several planks deal with governmental issues -- size of government, defense, etc. I'm skipping over them, although the Bible says little about these subjects. One thing I'd like to point out, though:
    we should immediately give notice of our withdrawal from the Nixon-Brezhnev Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty

    Under no circumstances should we unilaterally surrender our military base rights in Panama.

    The Bible does teach us not to lie, and to be people of our word. As a nation, we have signed these treaties, pledging our national honor to keeping them. Whether we agree with them or not, it is not a Christian characteristic to go back on our word. So we've got a bunch of 'no's here.


{continued in the next post}

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:48 PM | Comments (0)

Constitution Party part 2

{continued from previous post}


  • Education: The Bible teaches that parents are ultimately responsible for the education of their kids. I support school choice. I don't support ending compulsary education, which is what the platform says. I don't think the Bible has a lot to say on this, either.

  • Electoral College, Election Reform -- not a lot in the Bible about this stuff either. I'd bet a lot of good Christians would disagree with the proposals in the platform.

  • Energy: I agree with them, but I don't see a lot in the Bible about energy policy.

  • Environment: The Bible has a lot to say about the environment. It's God's creation, and we are to use it wisely. Stewardship is important, especially in the case of resources that are not renewable, or are very slow in replenishing themselves. SOme people would say that it is the duty of a Christian government to make sure that the environment is protected. Not the Constitution Party. Hands off is their policy.

  • Executive Orders -- nothing in the Bible about that.

  • Family -- I can give this one a check mark. That makes two planks that are distinctly, explicitly Christian.

  • Federal Aid and Foreign Policy bring some questions to mind. Shouldn't Christians be concerned about the welfare of people in impoverished countries? Shouldn't we be concerned with helping people overthrow tyrany? Shouldn't we be doing for the least of these? Not according to the Constitution Party. No more foreign aid, no entangling alliances, no nothing.

    The party's foreign policy would have worked a hundred years ago. Now, America is a dominant nation on the earth, and we are often called on by other countries for help. The Christian thing to do is not to turn our back on these people.

    I'd go on, but I think it's clear that, while very conservative, the Constitution Party is not explicitly Christian. They are very strict interpreters of the Constitution (which explains the name...). Pat Buchannan would be right at home with these folks. Many Christians would not be.

    The real question is -- should Christians be trying to use the civil government to bring the Kingdom of God into existance? I've talked about that one before.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:25 PM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2004

'Under God' Stays

Because he doesn't have the right to speak for his daughter, Michael Newdow's case to eliminate the phrase 'Under God' from the Pledge of Allegiance has been thrown out by the US Supreme Court.

I wondered about this from the beginning. In fact, I seem to recall that the girl was reportedly not offended by the pledge -- her mother claimed at one point that the girl was, in fact, a Christian. In any case, he does not have custody of his daughter, so he cannot speak for her.

I wonder if this was the best ending to the case. I tend to agree with Rehnquist, O'Connor, and Thomas that the majority opinion dodged the issue. All that has to happen is for a custodial atheist to protest the pledge on behalf of his/her kid, and we're going to go through this all over again.

I also like what O'Connor said about the so-called 'heckler vote'. We won't get anything done if we are always having to worry about the protest of one person. Everything we do is bound to offend someone -- the Constitution doesn't give anyone the freedom from being offended.

If you want a legal opinion of this decision, take a look here. In fact, you might want to keep checking back there if you're interested in the issues the Supreme Court is ruling on.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 07:34 PM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2004

ACLU and the LA Seal

Just when I was thinking that the ACLU might have gotten it's act together.

I've posted twice about the ACLU doing something FOR Christians, rather than TOO Christians. I was starting to think that they'd gotten religion or something, but they haven't.

This story has been blogged about quite a bit -- if you've been living in a cave with no Internet access, check this out, or you can find it here. Post 7 or 8 at Free Republic has a picture of the seal. If you look closely, you can see the cross, middle right. That's what the fuss is all about.

Of course, the big picture of a pagan goddess right in the middle of the seal. Maybe we should complain about that. I'm waiting, as are others, for the ACLU to go after the name of the city/county -- after all, angels are religious figures, and many might be offended by the endorsement of a specific religious system over those who do not believe in angels. And what about all the 'San's in California? Are we going to see a wholesale name-change in California?

I don't even see this as the ACLU 'going after' Christians. I kinda agree with Ed Brayton that this is silliness on both sides of the debate. Unfortunately, the city caved in.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 02:51 PM | Comments (0)

June 03, 2004

Faith-Based Initiatives

A lot has been said recently about President Bush's faith based initiatives. Most has been said by people who don't like the idea, and see it as the religious right trying to take taxpayers money to fund their evangelistic efforts.

Oddly enough, evangelicals don't always see it that way. In fact, the people who seem to be the most in favor of funding faith-based charities are fiscal conservatives, who see it as an opportunity to cut down the size of government and reduce federal spending.

I've talked to people on both sides of the issue; people who are eager to receive more funding for their work, no matter the source, and people who are afraid of what accepting federal money might entail -- if not now, then later.

I find myself increasingly in the latter category. I find myself wondering what strings might be attached to all that government money. Will we be able to evangelize? What about hiring practices -- can we still only hire people who accept our statement of faith? I know some faith-based charities who don't hire anyone who has been divorced -- what will happen to them if they suddenly are required to hire homosexuals? When we have to hire people who reject our beliefs, can we still seriously be called faith based?

I understand that there are a lot of groups who want the money. Many of these groups are more interested in social welfare than spiritual welfare. If that's their mission, then more power to them -- take the money and run. Don't complain in five or six years when Washington is less favorable to Christians and they try to restrict what you're allowed to do, say, etc. I don't worry about what will happen now as much as I do about what will happen then.

If you are truly faith-based, maybe it's time to exercise that faith, and let God supply all your needs, according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus. Get the government out of the way.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 05:19 PM | Comments (0)

Let's Hear it for the ACLU part 2

Thanks to The Great Separation for the heads up on this one.

Not sure I'd want to be baptised in the Rappahannock, especially around January or so, but I think it's great that churches are still doing traditional, open-air baptisms. I also think it's a shame that the park can't figure out that they're violating the free exercise clause of the Constitution by kicking them out. And I'm placed in the position of giving the ACLU an 'atta-boy' for actually jumping in to defend the Constitutional rights of Christians. If that happens much more, I may get a rash ...

Posted by Warren Kelly at 04:54 PM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2004

What is up with THIS?????

Click this link, and see what I'm going on about. If this were a British sit-com (OR a Monty Python sketch), I'd be a gruff policeman coming up repeating "Right! What's all this, then?"

I read this article in the hopes that someone had gotten a late start on April Fool's Day -- or maybe Internet April Fool's Day is actually May 24, or something like that. But no -- these people seem to be quite serious.

I've made my own opinions on the topic of Christian politics pretty clear before, I think. But I really think that this needs to be addressed.

This is a stupid idea. Stupider than all Christians leaving public education. No, this nation is not perfect -- far from it. Yes, we probably have a different idea about the Constitution than the founding fathers did. And society in general has really gone to the dogs, in spite of having Christians in government. So what we're going to do is -- create a Christian government. All of our own.

First of all, we've already got Christians in government, and it isn't working! What makes you think that a new government, run by Christians for Christians, will be able to do things better? Sure, you won't have abortions, you can put blue laws back in force, etc. So what happens the first time a Presbyterian wants to baptize a baby, and the local Baptist church gets mad because that's "un-Christian"? What about the Catholic church down the street that has organized gambling (bingo) to help fund it's activities? Gambling is a sin, after all -- at least it is in many churches.

Problem is -- whose version of Christian government do we implement? Baptists believe in a separation of Church and State -- no State-run religion for us, see what happened when Constantine did it? -- Government-organized councils deciding church doctrine! None of that for us! Or do you go with the liberal State that is giving to the poor and needy -- free health care, etc. -- Jesus said to do it for the least of these, right? And this is a Christian government, right?

Can't be done -- unless you only let Christians of your particular denomination in. And if you're a Baptist, good luck. Put two Baptists in a room together, you'll have three opinions on everything. We're troublemakers -- that's our job. In the body of Christ, we are the Achilles tendon -- important, but if we get irritated, everything stops.

Let's look at the problems they have with the US:

* Abortion continues against the wishes of many States * Children may not pray in our schools* * The Bible is not welcome in schools except under strict FEDERAL guidelines * The 10 Commandments remain banned from public display * Sodomy is now legal AND celebrated as ?diversity? rather than perversion * Preaching Christianity will soon be outlawed as ?hate speech?¹² * Gay marriage will be foisted upon us in the very near future

Abortion continues -- there's a solution for this: teach kids about Jesus! Jesus changes lives! Jesus changes hearts!

Children may not pray in schools -- bull! Kids can pray anytime they want to, as long as a teacher isn't leading the prayer. With all the complaints about heathen in public education, do you really want them teaching your kids to pray?? Not me -- I'm teaching my own to pray, and letting her know that nobody can keep her from praying.

Bible not welcome? My wife kept hers on her desk all year long -- at a public school. Did her devotions during her planning period -- at a public school. Get a clue before you spew this garbage. There were kids all year long who read their Bible openly at lunch, and nobody could stop them. It's the law, guys!

Preaching outlawed as hate speech? Doubtful. If they do it, they'll have to put me in jail, just like they did to the apostles. I won't run away from people who need the Gospel. Preaching is illegal in many parts of the world, and there are God-anointed people preaching in underground churches every day to throngs of believers. Run if you want to -- I'll stick around and do God's work.

Gay marriage? See my first point. Tell them about Jesus, and He can change them!

{sigh}.

This stuff gets me fired up. I'm tired of American Christians whining about how terrible things are, and how rough it is to be a Christian. There are people in the world who would give everything they own to have things as "rough" as we do. We haven't had enough persecution, in my not-so-humble opinion. We've got too many Christians who are comfortable, and when their comfort zone is violated, they want to run away.

I'm not running. If they make it illegal to preach, who knows -- I may become a preacher after all. If they ban the Bible, I'll buy a press and start printing them. I'm not going to go off to some Christian Utopia and bury my head in the sand and let the rest of the nation go to Hell in a handbasket.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:41 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2004

Religion in the Media part 2

This is the article that I just finished reading (would have been done LONG ago, but I've had some wierd stomach virus thing). As I said, it shouldn't surprise anyone that the news media doesn't always represent religion in a favorable, or even accurate, light. The surprise should be that, apparently, the majority of Americans know better, and are willing to watch the misrepresentations anyway. We're willing to let liberal Bible scholars question the reliability of Scriptural accounts. We're willing to let them say that the Gnostic Gospels are more accurate. Why?

I think the biggest part of that answer is the anti-intellectualism that people perceive as part of religion. Matters of faith, we believe, aren't on the same level as history, or science. Faith is individual, it's personal, and what we believe, while good for us, may not be good for everybody. It doesn't even have to be logical; it's faith, after all. And this is an area where evangelicals are trying to make up lost ground.

We say that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Light. If Jesus is the Truth, shouldn't that Truth be, well, true? If we accept that the Bible is God's Word to us, shouldn't that Word be accurate? If it tells us something as basic as the fact of Jesus' burial in a borrowed tomb, shouldn't we accept that as a fact? If it's lying about something like that, how do we determine what it isn't lying about? Can we?

Christians have become afraid of investigating their faith, partially due to the influence of liberal scholarship. If these "learned people" can poke such holes in Christian traditions, why would a Christian want to investigate further -- especially if it runs the risk of destroying our faith? Fortunately, these naysayers and skeptics are not the only authorities. There are conservative Bible scholars of all denominations who take orthodox Christian beliefs seriously, and are showing that they are logical, historic, and valid. We won't find them in the popular media, unless it is on a program outnumbered 4:1 by the Jesus Seminar. We have to find them ourselves -- we have to look. We have to read. We have to do for ourselves the things that the Reformation gave us the ability and the right to do -- study the Bible, and question teachers that contradict it. Until we do that, Peter Jennings will continue to throw softballs at John Shelby Spong and John Dominic Crossan on programs about why Christianity isn't what it was supposed to be, and we'll sit and watch, and wonder about what we were taught in Sunday School. And until we are willing to learn, Christianity will continue to stagnate in the United States, while the Church moves forward throughout China, Africa, and many parts in the East, where they haven't lost the zeal for God's Word.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 09:09 PM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2004

Religion in the Media

I'm in the middle of reading this report right now. When i'm done, I'll have a little more in-depth commentary on it. But for right now:

Does it really surprise anyone that there has been an increase in religion-related broadcasting, especially in the news? With all the reporting about the Catholic priest scandals, Mel Gibson's movie, and the Left Behind books, of course religion has gotten a lot of press! The problem is, they are asking the questions to the wrong people. John Dominic Crossan is the most visible "Bible scholar" around, if you believe what you see on TV. If ABC, Discovery, History Channel, and the rest are any indication, there are no conservative scholars in the world at all -- at least no scholars who hold to an orthodox position on Christianity. And the average American isn't willing to do their homework -- if they were, these specials would never get the ratings that they do, because people would know better! There was very little on the ABC special that I'd never heard before. Even less on some of the other attempts to cash in on Easter.

Maybe that's just because I'm one of those goofy people who prefers books to TV, but I refuse to believe that the average American is illiterate. NONliterate, maybe. We can read, we just don't want to be bothered. We'd rather listen to the talking heads on TV tell us what Christianity is really all about, so we can laugh at the goofy religious guy at work on Monday. And Christians are as bad, if not worse, than everyone else.

More about this tomorrow, I promise. It's time to dye Easter eggs.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:39 PM | Comments (0)
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